Preparing for Family Weekend

The first weekend in August has been designated as “Family Weekend” or as John calls it, “Mandatory Family Fun”.

This is the fifth year of gathering for a weekend of time together and the first year we’ll be meeting at a location other than the lake. Since Sarah graduates this weekend from UNF earning an MHA (Master of Health Administration), our reunion was moved to Jacksonville.

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Shopping completed. Boat and fishing gear readied. Bags packed. Bicycles loaded. And the most important job: food prepared. We’re hoping to reduce the amount of time spent cooking by doing some advance preparation.

Ham baked. Lasagna. Mac and cheese. Three types of salsa ready for evenings on the patio overlooking the river.

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We’re all looking forward to plenty of good food and drink as well as time in the pool, playing games, watching movies, soaking in the sun, fishing, walking, bike riding, and relaxing. But best of all…spending time together for some family fun.

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TBT Lesson #61

For the past 15 years we’ve displayed a picture on the mantle of our fireplace (since we’ve moved, on the entertainment center) to torture our daughters. You see, when they were younger, we could always count on them to get upset if we’d ask one of them to take our picture and then at the last possible moment turn and sneak a kiss.

After both John and I reeled in fish simultaneously, we wanted a picture of the two of us holding our fish; but when our daughter snapped the picture, we turned just in time for her to photograph an unexpected kiss.

Back home, we decorated a frame with some of the shells we’d found in Sanibel that summer and proudly displayed our kiss picture.

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TBT Lesson #61: It’s a good thing when your parents want to kiss one another.

Bigfoot, Smokey and Burt

After hiking along the Columbia River Gorge, we ate lunch under the watchful eyes of the Pacific Northwest’s most famous resident…Bigfoot. Of course, how could I resist a picture with Sasquatch?

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The next day, at Mt. Hood, Smokey the Bear stood watch. Time for another picture.

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Another Bigfoot in Seattle, Burt of Burt’s Bees, totem pole, pig and prawn meant more pictures.

Then a diver, a ship’s captain, the founder of Fairhaven and a lighthouse keeper.

But my favorite…my face inserted in one of those crazy photo booths…this time showing off a big catch.

IMG_1119You just have to love all the ridiculous picture taking opportunities you find on vacation.

 

Florida Lighthouse 1: Anclote Key

Our goal this year is to visit at least 15 lighthouses and after visiting 11 in Washington state and British Columbia, we finally made it to our first Florida lighthouse in 2015.

Anclote Key Preserve State Park, off the coast of Tarpon Springs, is only a short boat ride across St. Joseph Sound. A ferry is available in Tarpon Springs, but it’s also easy to kayak across the water from Anclote River Park, a county park. Our mode of transportation was our 15′ skiff making the trip both cheap and easy.

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Since the five miles of white-sand beaches are only accessible by boat, we encountered only a handful of people even on a summer day. I’m sure a weekend trip may be more crowded, but on a Wednesday, we saw fewer people than the shipwrecked inhabitants of Gilligan’s Island.

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We anchored near the pier, the recommended location, and then followed the boardwalk to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is not open to the public except on specially designated days, and in fact, we did not see the park ranger during our recent visit.

After reading about the history of the lighthouse, which was first lit in September 1887, and then taking a few pictures, we finished our time on Anclote Key swimming in the warm Gulf Waters and enjoying a little beach time and a picnic lunch.

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Only three more lighthouses to go to complete another of our 15 in 15 adventures.

Register for Do Not Call

Several years ago, I registered my home phone number with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call registry to eliminate calls from telemarketers and within a few weeks, these annoying calls stopped. At the time, telemarketers were prohibited from calling cell phone numbers so we received no sales calls from cemeteries selling burial plots, no calls from heat and ac companies wanting to schedule unnecessary service and no calls from companies wanting to install “free” home security systems.

Nothing lasts forever, and the past few weeks I’ve been inundated by sales calls, but this time they’re coming to my cell phone. The prohibition regarding cell phones is no longer in place so telemarketers are having a field day…but, not for long.

I’ve registered not only my home phone, but my cell phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry which promises to reduce the unwanted sales calls. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, registered numbers appear on the Do Not Call list the day following registration, but it may take up to 31 days for all sales calls to be stopped.

Unfortunately, political calls, charitable calls, information calls and telephone survey calls are not covered and can still be made to your number since the Do Not Call list applies only to sales calls, but at least this is a start.

To add your number to the Do Not Call list, dial 888-382-1222 or visit donotcall.gov. The process is quick and easy, but if you use the website, make sure you complete part 2 of the process by opening the emails that will be sent and clicking on the included link to verify your request.

Take control of your phone and register for Do Not Call today.

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Mom

Hammock Heaven

Did you know last Wednesday was Hammock Day? It’s always on July 22nd, but it’s difficult to enjoy a hammock on a Wednesday so I’d suggest today’s the day to climb in the hammock and relax. If you’re feeling especially energetic, you may want to take a book and read, otherwise, napping in the hammock will suffice.

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“I’ve never understood activity holidays since we seem to have far too much activity in our daily lives as it is. Find a culture where loafing is the order of the day and where they don’t understand our need to be constantly doing things. Find somewhere you can have a hammock holiday.” ~Tom Hodgkinson

“My perfect day is constantly changing. Right now, it would be to lie around in a hammock reading with a portable phone and a table of food next to it. I would spend all day there. And that’s all that I can possibly come up with on the spur of the moment.” ~Eric Stoltz

“Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5 P.M. deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.” ~Carl Honore

“I don’t care who you are, the pressure is on to go to the next task immediately. What happened to the days of hanging out in the hammock all afternoon?” ~James Brolin

“My goal involves a hammock, a vegetable patch, and a solar-powered house. And I hope to eventually get there.” ~Miranda Kerr

“Reading is a joy for my kids, and to swing in a hammock on a lazy summer day reading a good book just goes with summer.” ~Marcia Gay Harden

“I like to sit in my backyard. I go out on the hammock and sit in silence and kind of meditate. Nature is calming, and it’s nice to go out there and clear my head.” ~Devon Werkheiser

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Life is Better at the Lake

With traveling and bicycling and visiting lighthouses, it’s easy to forget to enjoy time at home. Last night we decided to get an early start so we can have some lake time before the “80% chance of rain and thunderstorms” arrived.

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No sleeping in. No reading. No writing. No computers. Instead, we put on bathing suits and sunscreen and started the day with a boat ride followed by a swim, if that’s what you call hanging onto inflatable rafts and floating in the lake. John even turned salvager, digging up a board, a wooden post and a toy boat he played with as a child…quite surprised to find that plastic PT-109 boat after all these years.

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Time for a little shade and lunch. Time to soak in every drop of life at the lake.

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Now we’re just waiting for a little wind so we can go for a sail before the predicted rain and storms roll in.

 

Van Fleet and Red Wing

We’ve started getting in a routine of going on a longer bike ride at least one day each week. Most of our rides have been on trails that can only be described as old favorites…ones we’ve ridden on several occasions and return to for the comfort of a familiar ride. However, we don’t want to get in a rut so we also look for opportunities to ride new trails and visit different places.

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Last summer we rode the General James A. Van Fleet Trail from the Mabel trailhead to the trailhead at Bay Lake, a twenty mile round trip, on what can only be described as a near perfect trail since it was flat, straight and shady. Last week we rode a second section of the trail from the Green Pond trailhead to Bay Lake, another 20 mile round trip. Like the portion we rode last year, this trail is equally flat, straight and shady, but since it travels through the Green Swamp, it’s wilder and more isolated.

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Through the early section of the trail we were serenaded by alligators as we crossed the three bridges over the protected wetlands. Many riders report seeing not only alligators but deer, armadillo, rabbits, tortoises, snakes and even otters. On the day we rode, we spotted one gator and numerous gopher tortoises, not bad for a hot summer day, but a trip in the fall may be needed for better wildlife viewing and so we can complete the final leg of the trail from Green Pond to Polk City.

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The trail’s well maintained and marked every half mile so it’s easy to know how far you’ve ridden and determine when it’s time to turn around, and while water and restroom facilities are available every 10 miles, it’s important to take plenty of water, especially on a summer ride. You also want to be self sufficient since there are few other riders and cell phone service is not available on all portions of the trail. However, with a little planning, the Van Fleet trail is a perfect way to spend a day in “wild” Florida.

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Speaking of “wild” Florida, on our way home, we found a restaurant in Groveland that fits that description. Upon entering Red Wing Restaurant, diners are met by an antler chandelier, and walls lines with mounted deer, turkey, a rooster and even a jackalope. The sign in the parking lot announced all you can eat quail, but that’s a Wednesday night special. In fact, many of the wild dishes like gator tail, frog legs, venison and game sausage are reserved for the dinner menu, but we enjoyed the milder hamburgers, steak sandwiches and peach cobbler.

Finding a new, good restaurant is always an ideal way to end a bike ride.

 

 

TBT Lesson: #60

With the news this week of the St. John’s River Management District permitting Sleepy Creek to make a daily withdrawal of 1.4 million gallons of water from the aquifer for a cattle ranching operation despite the warning from scientists that its impact will be detrimental to Silver Springs, the Silver River and the Ocklawaha River, this picture of John (the cute boy with his hand on the center rail) and his mother riding the glass bottom boat at Silver Springs in the early 1960s seems appropriate.

He and I both remember cruising upriver in the glass bottom boats amazed by the crystal clear water, gushing springs and abundant fish. Despite the 30% reduction in water flow and many fewer fish in the spring and river, Silver Springs is still a natural treasure, but you can only wonder how much longer that will continue.

 

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TBT Lesson #60: Visit Silver Springs and take a ride in the glass bottom boat before it’s too late (and if they still take these group photos…buy one.)

As Bare As You Dare

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If you think you’re going to an orgy, you’re going to be very disappointed. Instead, expect good, goofy fun! 

That’s how Portland’s version of the World Naked Bike Ride is described on their website. The organizers’ mantra is “Good, Safe, Fun,” a major reason no alcohol is permitted and riders are warned of the dangers of drunk riding.

Guess who was in Portland for this year’s ride? So how could Lisa and I pass up the opportunity to witness this unique event? It would like being in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and not watching the parades.

We saw some pretty unique bikes at the event:

 

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As well as some unusual bike helmets:

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And a variety of seat covers for the comfort of the riders:

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But most of all, we saw people of all ages having fun:

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And yes, thousands of them were naked:

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But have no fear, the slogan “As Bare as You Dare” applied to all…and Lisa and I didn’t dare to bare.

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